Monday, May 26, 2014

REV 3 Rush- 3rd Place

To begin, this is my first true podium in a professional triathlon race, so I am really happy with that. Coming into this weekend, training had not been going great because I was busy with school finishing my thesis proposal and finals, but I was excited to race the super sprint distance as I really love the high intensity heavy breathing feel of it. REV 3 was having the elite race be broken down into prelims on Saturday consisting of a 250 ish meter pool swim- 5 mile bike- 1.5 mile run and Sunday doing the course twice. Top 7 in each heat would advance to finals. The pool was a bit tricky to navigate with nothing on the bottom for depth perception, you needed to count strokes and/or sight to do turns but that was helped in the finals with putting cones near the walls. The bike course was simply around the NASCAR track, which was pretty sweet! flying around those banked turns in a group at 30 mph was great, and the run zig zagged two laps inside the track where you always had spectators cheering.

This picture gives a good idea of how the pool was different from a competitive swim race but I liked it. It was nice to still get waves and have some elements of open water in the swim.

Prelims on Saturday are always a bit nervous as the goal is just to advance as easily as possible to finals but you still have all the nerves because this race location and all was so unfamiliar. The first swim ended up going really well and I exited the water 5-7 seconds back of Eric Limkemann and Colin O'Brady- two former all american (I believe) swimmers in college. I chased hard for two laps but did not get any closer than 10 meters behind them. I looked back and saw a group of three were coming up, so I sat up and was absorbed and figured it would be better to relax before the run especially with knowing I could outrun many in the group. After a bit of confusion on the number of laps, we got into T2 and off on the run. I ran about 800 meters pretty hard and just cruised in the rest for 3rd in my heat and advanced to finals.
The pack from the first day. We worked pretty well and was nice to be feeling spry heading into finals.

That night, I slept 11- hours and woke up feeling pretty refreshed. I went for an easy 20 minute run in the morning since finals weren't until 1:30 pm and felt fantastic.

Finals were going to be much more competitive and had 15 pretty strong athletes on the line with a combination of fast runners, swimmers, and bikers. I lined up in lane 6, in between John Kenny and Colin O'Brady and we were off. I got out hard the first 50 and flipped even with Colin and John and had delusions of grandeur that I would stay swimming with them. In the end, they put 8- seconds on me in swim number one, but I just began drilling it on the bike and caught to lead pack of 7 two laps in with two really hard solo laps with my feet on top of my shoes. I went straight to the front as I wanted to keep the pace on knowing some fast runners were behind me. I got a few shout outs from the announcer for immediately going to the front and we had a few guys really willing to take hard pulls like John and Colin and Eric but we also had guys that would only attack on their pulls going off to the side and trying to take a flier. Not really a great strategy in ITU because 1. the pack does not appreciate it and 2. it hurts the pack. None of those stuck and we were caught by three others, making a pack of 11 heading into T2.
I got out of T2 in 5th or 6th and made my way into 3rd feeling very comfortable but running hard. Knowing the second swim is important in these races, I did not want to cook myself too early. Three of us had a solid 15- second gap (Justin Roeder, Jason West, had 10 seconds to myself) as we got to T3. When I went to put my goggles back on, they snapped and I did the second swim with no goggles. The second swim already hurts quite a lot but with eyes burning, it hurt a little more. I lost some valuable time due to that and exited the swim with my lane buddies, John and Colin. We bridged back up to Eric Limkemann and Justin and entered the final T5 together in a pack of 7 or so. We had lapped a few guys who were in our group, so it was a bit hard to understand who was a lap down or not. I made sure to get some water in on this ride and get ready to run. I got into T5 and instead of racking our bikes, volunteers were taking them from us! I ended up getting hit by a bike from an over eager volunteer so I think it would behoove them to keep a standard racking procedure in the future. T5 was further worsened by my racing flat insoles being bunched up, so I took both of them out and into the basket and ran without them. Got out of T5 in 7th with Jason West having been in a break on the bike. I moved into 4th relatively quickly and slowly reeled in 3rd with about 800 meters to go. I tried to really sprint with 400 to go as 3rd was a podium and double as much money as 4th.
My Mom still does not know how she made this video go into slow motion, but it ended up looking pretty cool as I was mid sprint for the line. I ended up having been in the fastest bike group for both rides and running the 3rd best combined run splits (7:08 first run and 7:01 second) for 1.5 miles (4:45 and 4:41 pace). Finishing 3rd was pretty sweet and was a great way to start off the summer season.

Monday, May 12, 2014

2014 Delaware Half Marathon

Question from a reporter after that race, "Why did you do this event if you're focused on triathlon?"
Me: "You have to be good at running and suffering in triathlon, so a hilly half marathon is good practice!"

So i decided to sign up for the Delaware half marathon for a few reasons, one of which was that it was great to race a local event that has grown by leaps and bounds. There were 1300 half marathoners, 700 marathoners, and loads of 4- person and 8- person relays. There was also a good prize purse for first and extra incentive to run fast.
I had not done a specific half marathon prep at all, actually, almost the opposite where I came off a taper for a sprint triathlon two weeks ago in Barbados. I wanted to put in a big training block from now until mid June, so I figured this would be a good way to kick it off. I was trying to keep it in my mind that this was essentially a long tempo run, and although it would be aerobically fairly easy, it would pound the legs pretty well without the specific long run preparations. I had run one 10- mile tempo the week before at 5:35 pace so I figured it would be reasonable to run 5:20-5:30 pace for this race, although it is fairly hilly in the second half.

Here is a nice text description of the race and a bit of an interview where I was on the news:

My goals for the race were: first to win, second to set the Delaware resident record on the course (1:14), and third, if I felt good, go for the course record of 1:10:32.

Here is my Strava page for the run:

This shows the course elevation profile and splits, but for those without Strava, here is a brief synopsis. the first 5- miles are very flat, mile 6 rolls a bit, mile 7 climbs 200 feet (about 3-4% grade steady) with some on cobblestones then just have rollers until mile 10 where you get a downhill to 12 and finally a nice .5 mile hill at 4-5% to get you close to the finish.

For the first 5- miles, I ran evenly 5:15-5:22 pace and felt conversational. At this point, I had a 35-40 second gap on second and was passing by marathoners who started 15 minutes before us. I had to consistently remind myself to not ease up as I was running past others quickly, but it was not a realistic representation of what my competition would be doing.  I seemed to be getting cheers the whole race either from marathoners I was passing or spectators, which was a really fun experience. Also, the two police escorts and a cyclist were incredible so I did not have to do much bobbing around the course. I'd like that for all my training runs! They did a great job. I passed the 10 in 32:50 and 11.25 km mark (half way) in 35:15- but this being the flat half knew I would be hard pressed to come back at the same pace.

Mile 7 got ugly with a 5:50 up the big hill, but I just tried to stay out of the red line and keep the same effort. At the top, I think I relaxed too much and recovered too much because at the 8 mile mark, somebody told me that another competitor was 45 second - 1 minute back so I picked it up pretty comfortably. At mile 9, I was running a little scared as I had no idea how much of a gap I actually had and was getting pretty hot out there, but Melissa was standing there and gave me a good pick up and reality check to continue pushing. I tried to really use the downhill miles from 10-12 well and get to the "King Street hill" comfortably and fly down to the finish. The strategy worked and about 1/2 mille from the finish, I had somebody yell "hey that' s my TA!" So that was pretty funny and nice motivation.

I finished in 1:11:45, a Delaware resident record and a minute off the course record, and 70 seconds in front of second. I am happy with this, but I know I can run a lot faster over a half distance- one day I want to really give a good half a shot but not for a bit.

It was really nice having my Mom there for Mother's Day too, and some other family and my girlfriend came out plus lots of locals that I knew from training were on the course, so it was really a fun event.
Always great to be able to break the tape!

Next race is a change up with the super sprint, draft legal, REV 3 rush with a trials and finals format.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Barbados Continental Cup 2014

For the second year in a row I traveled to Bridgetown, Barbados for the ITU pan am cup. It is a great race and the race director, Peter Gibbs, does an excellent job coordinating rides for every athlete from landing at the airport until they take off. It is a first class race!

Going into the race, I felt really strong biking and running but my swim just felt "funky" as I have been working on a slightly more efficient technique over the last month and it just was not clicking.

I stayed with 7- other US athletes, which was a super fun time and we were staying right on the bike course at a sweet condo set up called Paradise Villas. Was great having other to ride with before the race as the roads are pretty sketchy here.

To the race:

Swim: As soon as it started, we hit a wave, which I dove over but hit the sand right after as it was still quite shallow. I am top left of this picture diving with the navy suit on. This gave me a rough start and I got pinched out from swimmers colliding with one another until the first bouy. Usually, I get out a bit better so this certainly did not help my prospects. Not really sure why I swam so slowly after, exited the water 15-20 seconds behind athletes that I have consistently beaten out of the water, so that was very frustrating. Splits on are incorrect for some reasons including it was hand timed, but I know I was about 5- second behind Brent Poulsen out of the water.

Bike: Felt super strong and went straight into TT'ing to try and catch the bunch. Caught Brent Poulsen and John Slaney by the hill on the first lap and we soon caught a Mexican athlete. Unfortunately, Brent and I were the only two athletes able to pull hard enough on the bike so we were the only two working. Made for a very long ride. We caught Colin O'brady on the third lap but we still did not have a motivated and strong group. Finished with only having 40 seconds put into us from the 15- man group ahead but I was pretty fried.

Run: Went out hard and was able to immediately drop my group. Ran up to three athletes from the front pack and ended up racing well on the run despite doing a lot of work on the bike. Even had an athlete from Canada apologize for not being able to help on the bike- so at least I know I am biking and running strongly. Just need to fix this swim!